(Editor’s note: This historical article was written written August 18, 1989.)
On Aug.10, 1889, the Turkey post office was opened for the first time with Mr. Ed Mann serving as the first postmaster. The post office was located in his store which stood on the north side of the railroad in front of his home, which is now the home of Mr. and Mrs. Wilbert Butler. The house and store later belonged to Mr. and Mrs. Sam Sutton, and the store was burned in March 1917. Mr. Mann was also stationmaster at Turkey and the depot stood next door to his store. The railroad was completed in 1887 and was a spur of the Wilmington and Weldon Railroad. It was built on the bed of the old Warsaw to Clinton wooden plank road. Mr. Mann was from Wilmington and his wife was, prior to her marriage, Miss Eugenia Pigford. Through her grandfather, Edward Charles Gavin, she inherited the plantation south of Turkey known as “Cedar Hill.”
In 1901, Mr. Ed Britt became the postmaster and held the office until 1905. He built and lived in the house, which was later owned by Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Powell. He was replaced in 1905 by Mr. Bill Shipp, who served until 1914. Mr. Shipp was a brother of Clarence Shipp, Sr. who was the second mail carrier of Turkey, the first having been the late C.J. Carroll.
In 1914, the late Albert T. Britt became postmaster and served until 1918. He was the son of the Rev. John L. and Sallie Moore Britt. He had married the former Minnie Blount, and lived in Turkey in the house, which was remodeled later by Paul Wright. In 1918, Mr. Britt’s sister, Mrs. Mary Britt Powell became postmaster. Prior to her marriage had attended Oxford College, Oxford; and was a teacher. I well remember her years of service. The post office was located for a time in the house which Mr. and Mrs. Poydrus Faison later lived. The next post office was the little frame building, which is now Matthew’s Fish Market.
In 1926, Mrs. Lucy A. Williamson of Northampton County, N.C. became postmaster. She had married William A. Williamson while teaching at Parker School, north of Turkey. She moved the post office to the old Turkey Bank Building, and in 1960, she moved into the new brick post office building, which still serves as the post office. She retired in 1966, and Charlie Nick Chestnutt served for about a month as postmaster until he was replaced in February 1966 by Frank H. Powell. Mrs. Williamson is still living at the age of 93. When Robert L. Carroll retired in 1966, Charlie Nick Chestnutt became the mail carrier. For many years Mrs. Celestial Colwell served as assistant postmaster.
Frank H. Powell served as postmaster from 1966 until 1980 when he was succeeded by David D. Hudson, a son of the late Mr. and Mrs. George Hudson, and a graduate of Mount Olive College and North Carolina State University.
Other post offices in Turkey Township prior to 1889, were Spring Vale (1845-1870), Six Runs (1848-1902), the Duplin Old Courthouse (1813-1841) and Elliot (1886-1940). From 1870 to 1889, many people in the Turkey community got their mail in Warsaw, but there was no rural free delivery until 1902.
In earlier days, the stagecoaches running from Fayetteville to New Bern brought the mail. From 1886 to 1889 the Turkey people got their mail at Elliot, one mile west of Turkey on Highway 24. The depot was called “Summit”, and the post office was named “Elliot” for the late Dr. Elliot Lee of Clinton.
On Aug. 23, there will be a little reception at the post office in Turkey at noon commemorating the first day issue of a stamp marking the 200th anniversary of North Carolina’s adoption of the Federal Constitution and the centennial of the establishment of the post office at Turkey.